Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturdays in the Garden - Leopard Frogs and Bacon Grease

Saturdays in the Garden is my attempt to reflect on the week just gone and informally serves as my garden journal.



Once again I did very little in the garden this week though  did have to water which has been a rare enough occurrence this year.  My first peppers are ripe  - the sweet Italians to the left - and will promptly be used with my still thriving tomatoes to make some spaghetti sauce.  There is a basic recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (11th edition) cookbook which freezes well and it feels pretty awesome that  at least half the ingredients will come from the garden.  It would be nice someday if all (but the meat) the ingredients could be right out the kitchen door.  Some day.... Here's the recipe:

Classic Spaghetti Sauce

12 ounces ground beef or bulk pork sausage
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1/2  cup chopped green sweet pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped, peeled tomatoes (6 large) or two 14-1/2-ounce cans tomatoes, cut up
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
2 teaspoons snipped fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces dried spaghetti, vermicelli, or other pasta
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. In a large saucepan or pot cook ground beef or pork sausage, onion, sweet pepper, celery, and garlic until meat is brown. Drain fat.
  2. Stir in the fresh or undrained canned tomato, tomato paste, water, parsley, basil, oregano, marjoram, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more, or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain well. Serve sauce over spaghetti. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts

(Classic Spaghetti Sauce)
    Per serving:
  • 503 kcal cal.,
  • 13 g fat
  • (4 g sat. fat,
  • 53 mg chol.,
  • 374 mg sodium,
  • 71 g carb.,
  • 6 g fiber,
  • 28 g pro.
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

I didn't have much time to spend in the garden this week because I was out in Western Iowa doing field work.

It's a hard knock life.  And yes that is, in fact, Iowa.  It may be 80% corn and soybeans but the state does have some natural beauty tucked away here and there. I was looking for butterflies and didn't find many of interest but I did find this little fellow who seemed out of place on the top of a ridge very far from any water.

It's a northern leopard frog and I have noticed before that they do range quite far from their watery birthplaces. 



Everywhere in the news this week was the the death of Robin Williams.  There is a huge outpouring of sadness and I really get it.  I am of an age that I feel like I grew up with Robin Williams.  Not growing up while he grew up but his comedy and movies were some of my favorite things as a kid and teenager.  Some of my favorite movies of his, all of which I watched many times were Good Morning Vietnam ("Big Dogs Landing on my face"), Aladdin, Dead Poet's Society, Good Will Hunting, Hook.  I adopted the quote above from Good Morning Vietnam as a kind of catch phrase for a while because something about the absurdity of it just brought me so much joy.  He had a particular talent for conveying both the humorous and poignant sides of life and all I can say is Thanks for all the laughs and all the tears Mr. Williams. Please rest in peace.

On the lighter side of things some of my favorite things this week were:

- Getting my hair significantly cut for the first time in almost a year.  Is there anything more sublime?
- BLTs with heirloom tomatoes.
- Using the grease from the bacon to make these dog treats:

Here's the recipe.  I threw in some shredded parmesan and sharp cheddar cheese that I had around.  The dogs seem to like them.
- Black Mango Iced Tea.  There's an awesome tea shop down in the big city of Des Moines, Gong Fu Tea, and their Black Mango tea blend makes the most amazing iced tea ever in the history of iced tea.

Summer is good.

BOOKS and the BLOG

Reading has been pretty good this week.  Earlier today I finished The Blackhouse by Peter May, an atmospheric coming of age/mystery thriller sort of tale.  I am also closing in on the end of 11/22/63 by Stephen King which is quite a feat.  Not only is the book super long but it will be the first out of three of King's books I will manage to finish.  I am currently at the point in the book where it is 11/22/63 and yet there are still five discs to go so I don't know what it has in store for me but I'm guessing it will be something.

I also hurried on over to my favorite library in the world in the next town over because they will be closed for a whole month!!  It's been at a temporary location for 2 years while substantial renovations were made at the real location and now they are moving back in to their new fancy digs.  I stocked up on some cozy mysteries and a book in a fantasy trilogy I've been reading.  Less books for them to move:)

Before you feel too sorry for me I should mention that I actually live almost directly across the street from my town's library.

View from my front porch
The problem is that while it's a lovely old building with tons of space their selection is pretty poor.  I've joked ever since I moved here that I was going to get on the library board and shake things up but as of yet I have made not one single move towards accomplishing this.  Has anybody else ever served on such a committee - I'm wondering how rewarding or horrendous it might be...

I followed my new plan on the blog this week and it went okay.

SUNDAY:  I posted about the most awesome Locke and Key graphic novel series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.  It's beautiful and creepy and good fun.  4 out of 5 stars.
TUESDAY: Participated in The Broke and Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday meme about books I'm not too sure I want to read.
THURSDAY:  I posted a review of the thoughtful and engrossing The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.  4.5 out of 5 stars.
FRIDAY: I'm gonna give the Bout of Books 11 read-a-thon a try.  I want to catch up with my goodreads goal that I set. 

This coming week:

SUNDAY: Review of The Blackhouse by Peter May
TUESDAY:  First Bout of Books update.  I think I will skip Top Ten Tuesday this week which is about books you feel pressured to read.
WEDNESDAY: Update Bout of Books progress.
THURSDAY: Review of Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo and Bout of Books update.
FRIDAY: Bout of Books update.
SATURDAY:  Saturdays in the Garden.

So what's been up in your life or garden?  Favorite moment or book of the week?

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